PROTECTION AGAINST STROKE-INDUCED INJURIES
Tocotrienols are members of the vitamin E family. An essential nutrient for the body, vitamin E is made up of four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta).
Deficiency of vitamin E is a cause of neurological dysfunction. The brain is highly susceptible to oxidative damage due to its high oxygen consumption. Furthermore, the high lipid content of the brain makes it susceptible to lipid peroxidation in an antioxidant poor environment.
40-60 times more potent an antioxidant, tocotrienols are more effective than tocopherols in protecting brain cells from oxidative damage (37).
Tocotrienols exert potent neuroprotective property as proven in a number of NIH-sponsored studies (38-40). In vitro study showed that alpha-tocotrienol, not alpha-tocopherol, prevented neuron’s death at extremely low concentration (nanomolar, 10-9).
Tocotrienol-treated neurons maintained healthy growth and motility even in the presence of excess neurotoxic agent. The neuroprotective property seen at such low concentration of tocotrienol is independent of its antioxidant activity, as tocotrienols do not exhibit antioxidant properties at nanomolar concentrations. Tocotrienol only begins to show its antioxidant effects at micromolar concentrations (41).
The same researchers at the Ohio State Medical Center went on to demonstrate that oral tocotrienols reaches rats’ brain in concentration that protected against stroke. There is reduced volume of cerebral infarct in tocotrienol supplemented rats compared with matched controls (40).
A further study showed that tocotrienol supplementation in healthy women achieved plasma levels of tocotrienols 12 to 30 times more than the required neuroprotective concentration (42).
A randomized double blind placebo controlled human study, is on course to recruit some 400 participants over the next few years to study the neuroprotective effects of tocotrienols by looking at white matter changes using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (43). This allows the researchers to look into early changes of the brain without having to wait for an overt clinical endpoint such as a clinical stroke.
The results of this clinical trial will shed more light on the benefits of palm tocotrienol complex in both acute neurological disorders, e.g. stroke, and chronic neurodegerative disorders, e.g. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease.
The research papers used in this presentation are listed at Carotech.